Rugby' s Ashlawn School has defended a new toilet policy, which sees toilets locked during lessons, after a petition calling for a rethink gathered 460 signatures.
Last week parents began contacting the Advertiser to share their frustrations over the policy, which the school said has been put in place because a growing number of pupils were using the call of nature as an excuse to leave lessons and take extended breaks.
Although pupils are still able to access the toilets during lessons by collecting a key, some parents said they feel the policy discriminates against girls and those with disabilities.
Jenny Ford, the creator of the petition, wrote: "This is a petition to unlock all toilets at Ashlawn School, during lessons and movements.
"Students are denied access to toilets during lessons, medical pass students have had their access made hard to achieve.
"The reason given is due to behaviour, one blanket rule affecting the majority of the schools population, disproportionately affecting females and students with medical issues, to resolve a small minority of student issues is not the way forward."
The Advertiser contacted Ashlawn School for comment and Siobhan Evans, the school's principal, said the new policy is one that can be found in many other schools - and there are provisions for pupils to continue to go to the toilet during lessons should they absolutely need to.
She said: "Since the start of the academic year, we have brought in a number of changes to ensure that all of our lessons start with real focus and purpose.
"Our students, for example, are lining up when they arrive at their class. They are being greeted by their teacher, and then go into their lessons in a calm and orderly fashion – which helps sets the tone for the rest of the lesson.
"One of the issues that we faced, however, was the disruption caused by toilet breaks.
"We are all human and calls of nature are inevitable – but it was becoming clear that some students were frequently using a toilet trip to ensure that they missed the start of lessons and/or that they would use them to break up the lesson itself.
"This not only negatively impacts the learning of the student concerned, but also disrupts the lesson and learning of every child in their class.
"As part of our new expectations, we have, therefore, slightly amended our toilet access policy so it is more in line with that of most other schools.
"We are actively encouraging all students to use break times for their toilet breaks, and to support this we have closed the toilets during lesson times.
"That does not mean, however, that they can’t be used in lesson times.
"There will inevitably be some occasions where a student can’t wait.
"If that is the case, then a student simply asks their teacher if they can leave, just as they have done in the past, and then picks up a key from a location near one of our main toilet blocks.
"Those students who have medical needs have been issued with a pass and they are able to access toilets more freely.
"While I fully appreciate that any change causes some unrest and confusion, what I can say is that the changes are having a positive and tangible impact on lessons and the feedback has been really positive.
"We are entrusted with our student’s education and wellbeing, and we take that responsibility seriously.
"These amendments to our practice are not meant to be excessive or cause any worry, we are simply evolving our approach to better support the learning of our community."
Visit bit.ly/3iUp8Ys to see the petition.